Today I took my daughter to a playground, as I do all the time, and she saw another young woman there (about 18 or so) who looked a lot like her birth mom, and ran to her, giving her a hug and sitting in her lap. This is actually not unusual for M, as in certain situations she has been known to see a complete stranger, always a woman, but of varying ages and builds and colors, and run up to her and hug her or want to hold her hand. This has happened several times at parks or fairs, but certainly doesn’t happen every time. Maybe once a month or once every couple of months. Except for music class, when M was hugging all of the adults and some of the older children incessantly, even sitting in a different mother’s lap instead of mine. I could tell that the other moms found this strange, but since her behavior in general in the class was not good, we left the class and that was the end of it.
Today, however, M not only wanted to hug the other woman, she preferred her over me. She wanted me to stop pushing her in the swing and this young lady to do it instead. She wanted to be carried everywhere by the other woman. She wanted to go wherever she went. We were walking by some geese with goslings and the goose started hissing at M and coming toward her. Freaked out, she ran towards me with arms outstretched, as per usual, then registered it was me and turned to the other woman instead, wanting to be held. I couldn’t believe it… my daughter wanted a stranger when she was scared? She was almost to me and then consciously chose to reject me in favor of a stranger. She actually cried for several minutes after I took her away from the other woman. I was freaked out and just wanted to leave. I was also feeling heartbroken. This woman did look a lot like Cindy, does that then mean that M would prefer anyone similar to her birth mom to me? Does she feel, deep down, that I’m not her “real mom”?
I’m sure the whole incident has said more about me and my insecurities than it has about M, but I still don’t know what to make of the situation. M does not have any other symptoms related to attachment disorders. These few incidents aside, she always prefers me to everyone else, even other adults (like my mom) that she’s close to, and she cries if I leave her, or at least protests. When she’s hurt or scared she always insists that it be me who comforts her, and asks for me when I’m at work.
It’s not like she isn’t getting enough affection at home. I was already there willing and happy to hold her, push her on the swing, etc. I cuddle with her a lot, hold her while we read or just sitting, pick her up, give kisses, and she is very affectionate in return. I’ve read a lot of adoption books about couples who adopt children and deal with behaviors that include what I’m describing, but M doesn’t display any of the other problematic behavior those children display. From what I can tell, in the 5 weeks between birth and coming to my home she was at least held and given a lot of physical contact, although I know she experienced more trauma when it comes to changes in environment and caregivers than a child in a secure environment during the same time period of development.
I don’t know if I’m worrying too much, but it really disturbed me today. I just can’t get over the feeling that something was really, really wrong. Do non-adopted children from stable homes sometimes display this behavior? Is it meaningful in any way? Should I be having her assessed for something in particular even though I’ve looked over symptoms of attachment disorders and sensory processing disorders and found maybe one or two on lists of 20+ symptoms?